You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss if you have been injured or lost a family member in a commercial vehicle accident. Understanding your rights as the victim of a truck accident is essential. Several distinctions between a personal vehicle accident and a truck accident can complicate the legal process and affect the recovery you receive.
What Makes a Truck Accident More Complicated?
Commercial vehicle accidents in New Jersey are much more complicated than a typical car accident claim, as commercial vehicles are held to higher standards. Commercial vehicles in New Jersey are subject to state and federal regulations and higher insurance requirements than personal vehicles. On top of that, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has regulations and laws specific to commercial vehicles to promote safe travel on all major roadways.
For example, under FMCSA regulations, truck drivers carrying property generally may not drive more than 11 hours in a shift after taking at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. They also have to take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours. In addition, truck drivers must keep an accurate logbook of their time, including all hours driven and their breaks. The trucking industry is also subject to many other legal requirements, especially maintaining trucks and loading cargo correctly.
Failure to abide by these laws may result in legal (including criminal prosecution) and financial sanctions if the company is non-compliant with these regulations. Compensation is more likely if you were in an accident where a trucking entity violated one of these regulations.
However, determining the at-fault party might be unclear, even if a violation is obvious. In a commercial truck accident, potential parties include the following:
- Driver’s employer,
- Owner of the truck,
- Truck or car part manufacturer,
- Cargo owner and loader, and
- Truck maintenance company.
Not all commercial truck accidents involve all of these entities. For example, some truck drivers are independent contractors who own their vehicles.
What Should I Do If I Was in an Accident with a Truck?
Whether your accident involved a truck or not, there are several steps you should take following an accident.
Immediately following an accident, you should prioritize your medical care. Then, call the police, exchange information, take pictures of the accident and write down your account of the events.
After a police report is filed and your medical care is addressed, report the accident to your insurance company.
Things to avoid after an accident include admitting fault, giving the insurance company too much detail, talking about your accident on social media, or waiting too long to file a claim.
Additionally, accepting a quick settlement when dealing with injuries and mounting medical expenses may be tempting. However, trucking and insurance companies want to protect their financial interests and pay as little as possible. That means early settlement offers are usually much lower than you deserve.
What Can I Recover After My Accident?
The next thing to consider is what expenses you can be compensated for in your lawsuit, which is called damages. Damages can include:
- Medical expenses;
- Future medical costs;
- Property damage;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages, income, or profit;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Special damages—a general category that covers all monetary losses after an accident.
This list is not exhaustive but should give you a good idea of the types of damages you can recover, and as you can guess, calculating some of these damages can be confusing.
When discussing damages, it is also important to consider any insurance coverage involved. New Jersey is a “no-fault” auto insurance state. All New Jersey drivers must carry personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. That PIP coverage will pay for your truck accident medical costs up to your policy’s limits, regardless of who caused the accident as long as you are in an automobile at the time of the accident.
Wrapping your head around all of this is no easy feat. If you still have questions regarding commercial vehicle truck accidents, then it’s best to speak with an attorney. Contact Petro Cohen, P.C. today.
Trust Petro Cohen with Your Personal Injury Case
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our injury attorneys have decades of experience handling thousands of personal injury cases with successful outcomes for our clients, fighting hard to recover fair compensation and appropriate medical care for their injuries. Petro Cohen Managing Partner Susan Petro heads the Personal Injury Department, which includes experienced personal injury attorneys Rich Gaeckle and Mike Veneziani. Whether your injury resulted from a slip and fall, construction site mishap, or an accident involving an automobile, truck, motorcycle, boat, or bicycle, we can help, even if it means litigating against big corporations or public entities. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney by calling 888-675-7607. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.